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Five things we learned from Ireland’s 31-7 Six Nations win over Wales

Sheehan keeps record in sight; captaincy culture; Piardi makes history; Twickenham target; Ireland’s first-half dominance continues

Sheehan’s scoring streak continues to keep record alive

The record is still on, although maybe only just about. Dan Sheehan added another try to this year’s count to take it to four touchdowns in three matches. Mighty good for a hooker but still four off the record for the Six Nations with two games to go. The mark for most tries in a single campaign is eight and was first set by England’s Cyril Lowe in 1914 and equalled by Scotland’s Ian Smith in 1925. Sheehan was averaging a try and a half per game. That has fallen and he needs to be free-scoring against England and Scotland. Having scored two against England last year, don’t rule him out.

Captaincy culture: Wales willing to go with young leaders

Welsh captain against Ireland on Saturday, Exeter secondrow Dafydd Jenkins was appointed by Warren Gatland in January and had won only 12 caps at the time. He is just 21 and won’t be 22 until December 5th. He is the youngest Welsh captain since Gareth Edwards wore the armband as a 20-year-old in 1968. Sam Warburton was appointed when he was 22. Irish captain Peter O’Mahony is 34, while the youngest ever Ireland captain was a strapping 20-year-old called John Ross in 1896. Would Ireland pick a 21-year-old captain now, or is there a cultural difference in Wales and Ireland rugby thinking?

Andrea Piardi makes history and splits opinions

The referee for Ireland’s match against Wales, Andrea Piardi, became the first referee from Italy to officiate in the Six Nations. There were some differing opinions on how he performed on the day, Irish coach Andy Farrell referring to his decision to send Tadhg Beirne to the sin bin as “confusing”, while Welsh captain Dafydd Jenkins also spoke up after the match. “I thought there were a couple of calls that went against us in the first half,” he said. The take away? Addled coaches, fans and players in a game of complex rules and interpretations.

Ireland have Twickenham target of a record deadly dozen

“We wanted to be better today,” said Andy Farrell after the match, although he was seeing the glass half-full. Maybe that’s because the coach of a team that has just won its last 11 matches in the championship should feel pleased. England, having missed out on the title on points difference in 2015, then won a Grand Slam in 2016 and topped the table the following year despite losing their final fixture to Ireland. That gave them a record of 11 consecutive match wins in the tournament stretching over three seasons. So, Ireland play England in Twickenham next with a 12-match streak on the line. That makes it spicy.

Ireland’s first-half dominance continues against Wales

In another strong first-half performance, Ireland continued to follow a common trend for this year’s Six Nations. So far, the team has scored 53 points in the first half of the three games against France (17 points), Italy (19 points) and Wales (17 points). That’s a decent tally for 120 minutes of rugby. Added to this, Ireland have kept two of the teams to zero points over the first 40 minutes, Wales were 17-0 down on Saturday at the break and Italy were beaten 36-0 in the previous match, leaving France as the only side that has so far scored any points (10) in the first half against Ireland.